Exercise ‘extraordinary’ diligence in COVID-19 testing, public urged

Published March 5, 2021, 12:29 PM

by Merlina Hernando-Malipot

Even amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccination roll-out, the Philippine Red Cross (PRC), government officials and health workers emphasized the importance of continuously testing, tracing, and treating the virus.


PRC Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Senator Richard Gordon underscored the need for the public to exercise “extraordinary diligence” in getting tested for COVID-19.

“Dapat talaga atupagin ng gobyerno ‘yan at atupagin ng tao na sila ay ma-test. Sapagkat kung hindi sila mattest, manghahawa sila kung sila ay may sakit. At kung sila ay mai-test, maililipat sila sa magandang lugar na magagamot sila, pipiliting pagalingin sila, at marami namang gumagaling (It is really the government’s job and the people’s to ensure that they get tested because if they don’t tested, they will infect others if they are sick. If they are tested, they will be moved to a good place where they can be treated and they can recover because many are recovering),”Gordon said in a statement issued on March 5, Friday.

Meanwhile, Dr. Michael Tee from the University of the Philippines Manila also underscored the need for diligence in COVID-testing since “8 out of 10 COVID-19 cases are asymptomatic, which means they cannot be detected and isolated based on temperature checks alone.” Tee added some overseas Filipino workers – who were supposedly screened and cleared abroad before flying to the Philippines – also tested positive upon arrival. This, he said, is based on the findings of his team of researchers.

COVID-19 Testing Czar Vince Dizon also agreed to exercise diligence in COVID-19 testing noting the increasing local cases of COVID-19 variants first detected in South Africa and the United Kingdom. The Health Department has also detected two “mutations of concern” in cases in Central Visayas.

PRC started offering Saliva Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) test this year. So far, it has processed almost 24,000 saliva samples using RT-PCR machines in their Molecular Laboratories nationwide.

Gordon has also inked partnerships with the private sector to offer the cheaper, non-invasive, but accurate Saliva Tests in drive-thru collection booths in malls, and through home service.

To date, the PRC leads COVID-19 testing in the country, having exceeded two million swab tests nationwide. This milestone accounts for 24 percent of the country’s testing output, and for about 37 percent of testing in Metro Manila.

Dizon also expressed support to PRC’s Saliva RT-PCR Test noting that it is the only saliva test stringently reviewed and approved by regulators.

“Kailangan po lalo pa nating pa-iigtingin ang ating testing, and kailangan naman po ay talagang pabilisin natin ang pagpapalaganap nitong mga Saliva Test (We need to intensify our testing, and we really need to speed up the dissemination of these Saliva Tests),” Dizon said.